A unique tourism promotion and learning activity is in the offing from the Malayalam Wiki stable.

In its 11th year and with nearly 34,000 articles in its well-catalogued repository, the Malayalam Wikipedia is set to launch a QR Code (Quick Response) project in collaboration with the State Tourism Department to grant tourists easy access to authentic information about heritage structures and places in Alappuzha.

The project envisages setting up QR Code boards at 150 monuments and places of importance in Alappuzha. “Visitors who take a snap of the QR boards using their smartphone cameras will be led to the Wiki pages on the place/structure.

The project has already been executed on an experimental basis at the Alappuzha lighthouse,” says Malayalam Wikimedia mentor Viswanathan Prabhakaran, popularly known as Viswa Prabha.

“You can also use ordinary digital cameras and when the images are downloaded on a computer connected to the Internet, he/she will be redirected to the Wiki page on the object of the image.” The QR Code, for which Malayalam Wiki is soon to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Tourism, came up for discussion at the recently-held ‘Wiki Sangamolsavam’ in Alappuzha which was attended by close to 200 Malayalam Wiki activists and 30-odd Wikipedians in Oriya, Telugu, Tamil and Marathi languages, making it arguably the pioneering language community meet in India.

“We wanted to create awareness among local people and the political class on using QR Code for tourism and the response from the local population, the district administration and leaders like Thomas Isaac was encouraging,” say Wiki activists.

“It was a three-day real-life meeting of all Wikimedians which coincided with the 11 anniversary of Malayalam Wiki,” maintains Viswa Prabha.

The QR Code, he says, harbours many possibilities like a ‘voice-over virtual guide’ that could give the visitor a pre-recorded audio tour of the place of visit.

A highlight of the event was the session for school students — nearly 150 in all including some seasoned Wiki hands like the students of the Government Higher Secondary School, Anchal West, who literally wrote the history of their place, thereby contributing some 30 well-researched articles to Malayalam Wiki.

An upcoming Wiki project on audio records of Malayalam poems had a soft-launch, with students reciting their favourite pieces of poetry. About 30 visually challenged Wiki enthusiasts attended with verve a session on reading and editing Malayalam Wiki articles using special gadgets, says Wiki activist Kannan Shanmugham.

While the first two days were for the conference, what was called ‘unconference’ was held on the last day, with some 70 activists undertaking in two boats a guided tour with a planned itinerary along the backwaters of the Vembanad lake. Eminent personalities like linguist Scaria Zacharia, Dr. B. Ekbal, V.P. Markose and Babu Cherian attended various sessions of the landmark event.

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